Sikkim is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural state of India which is filled with colorful magnificence all against the crowning, snowcapped jewel of the Himalayan ranges. The people here are famous for their diversity and a unique set of traditions and beliefs that is very different from the rest of the Indian plains and subcontinent.
However, just like anywhere on the hills, the people of Sikkim are defined and identified by the clothing they are wearing or the jewelry they are adorning. If you happen to spend your holiday in Sikkim you will come across a very heterogeneous population.
Here is everything you need to know about the traditional Sikkim dresses that will help you in identifying the true essence of what makes this small state interesting in its own quirky way:
Traditional Bhutia Tribe Clothing:
Known as Bakhu in the Nepalese dialect and Kho in the Bhutia language, this is the primary traditional costume worn by the Bhutia tribe of Sikkim who make for a major section of the Sikkimese population. Apart from the fact that this piece of clothing is sleeveless, Bakhu resembles somewhat a Tibetan Chuba which is worn by both men and women. This looks like a loose cloak like clothing that is tied and tightened around the neck and waist with the help of a belt which is made out of silk or cotton material.
Over the years this simple and traditional clothing attire of Sikkim has gone through a substantial change to cater to the needs of the changing generations and the age of modernization. People now pair it up with a pair of denim jeans to make it look more western. Some women also choose to pair the Bakhu with a traditional shawl or a blouse known as Majetro and Chaubandi Cholo.
Traditional Lepcha Community Clothing:
The main traditional outfit worn by the people of the Lepcha community is known as Thokro Dum. Resembling a arate player’s outfit this piece of traditional attire can be spotted due to its Payjama length that goes down till the calves. Mostly people traditionally choose to wear a cap known as Shamo and a Yenthatse which is a traditional Lepcha shirt. To complete the look a hand woven waist band called Dupra is pinned at one of the shoulders and then wrapped around the waist of the wearer. The short length of the Payjama indicates that the men are original inhabitants of marshy lands.
The Payjamas are also made up of long-lasting materials to cater to the needs of the hard-working people who spend long hours in the field toiling away. The intricately and finely woven hats are also worn since they hold immense historical and ethnic value which is buried very deep in the historical past of their land. Did you know that these hats are made out of canes, bamboos, and straws? And these are worn as an ode to the royal soldiers who worked hard during the era of Chogyal Dynasty.
The women from Lepcha community adorn beautiful a Saree – like garment which is referred to as a Dumvum or a Dumyam in the traditional language. This outfit goes down till the ankle and offers a silky, smooth, and comfortable sense of comfort. It is a very significant piece of clothing among the people of this community and they wear it as a mark of honor and pride which according to them binds them together in one string. A loose-fitting blouse is also aired up with this ankle-length Saree which is generally contrasting and very bold in color. This blouse is commonly known as Tago. Just like the other traditional Sikkimese outfit to complete the look the people include a belt called Nyamrek and taro to cover the head and is a type of a traditional hat/cap.
Lepcha men and women showcase distinct differences in the way they wear their traditional attire where the calf-length payjama indicates them working on the marsh lands on the other hand flowy garments or bottom wear is an indication of working on dry fields and land.
Sikkim is inhabited by people from neighboring and nearby regions as well, mainly consisting of people, especially from Nepal. But how can you spot them from the rest? The Nepalese men wear this particular outfit as an ode to their tradition. This attire consists of a garment which is double-breasted and long, flowy in nature making it comfortable and stylish to wear at the same time. The bottomwear consists of a churidar which is known locally as Shuruval itself and the shirt which they adorn as a Topwear is known as a Daura or a simple shirt.
Completing and pulling the whole look together as one is a waistcoat or an ascot and a belt known as Patuki. Some people also carry a Khukri in a leather case to represent their community and pay homage to their dynamic and fearless courageous past.
Traditional Wedding Attire:
No matter which part of India or the world you go, the traditional wedding attire are very colorful and beautiful to look at. When it comes to the eastern part of the Himalayas, the bride is adorned with the finest clothing made out of smooth silk material making them look like the royals of Baku community. Similar clothing made out of silk is created for the grooms. Both the bride and groom wear similar upper garments the only distinction being a loose trouser worn by men as a part of the bottom wear. As a part of showcasing grandeur, men and women wear leather boots. When it comes to jewelry they make sure to wear only the finest jewels made out of pure gold which further adds on to their royal look and feel.